“No Disrespect” by Sister Souljah is full of experiences and ideas that some conservative or routine people may find offensive. The author is an accomplished lecturer, activist, and scholar. “No Disrespect” is her autobiography, but it is not your average chronological, cookie-cutter life story. Sister Souljah attended Cornell University’s advanced placement summer program, Spain’s University of Salamanca study abroad program, and a graduate of Rutgers University. She has lectured across the globe, and organized many programs to empower families and programs. Often, individuals accomplished to a degree this high can attribute their success to their upbringing, and the support of their parents. After reading “No Disrespect,” it is evident that Sister Souljah believes and teaches self-reliance.
Mother, Chapter One. Instead of numerically notating the chapters, the author names each one after a person in her life. In a very calculated manner, the titles are relevant and keep the directions of the story flowing. It was exciting to see what name would be featured at the next turn of the page. “No Disrespect” is about the life of a young African-American woman and her struggle to understand family roles, relationships with men, and love. This autobiography should be a handbook for anyone living in a conventional nuclear family, all of the youth of today, and any person that believes they know why so many African-Americans are living dysfunctional and dangerous lifestyles.
“Casual rape,” is just one of the many harsh activities the author describes that can occur in the projects. Growing up in the projects for much of her youth, Sister Souljah makes it clear “self-love” and a relationship with God carried her through many trying times. The absence of families helping one another and communities coming together for a better way of life was illogical to the author. She was adamant throughout her life about developing a plan to “save the broken lives and spirits of the shattered families,” rather than just host celebratory parties as her wealthy relatives did.
“She is as deadly as a nine millimeter.” This analogy to describe the rareness of a 21-year-old educated woman without children. This may seem like an extreme statement, but it shows young women that there is power in being independent and having a family by choice, not by accident. This idea along with the constant relationship highs and lows described successfully give many readers a new way to think about their own lives.
These are ideas that are talked about all the times in forums and “save the youth” campaigns, but the author’s life contextualizes these points to a degree where another sector of people can relate and gain a new perspective. This new outlook may lead them to an overcoming, achieving life. People that only observe events like this on the news will benefit as well. It is always enlightening to know what life would be like if you lived on the “other side of the tracks.” Sister Souljah’s book opened these cookie-cutter eyes to a new part of the world.
“No Disrespect” by Sister Souljah, Vintage Books: pp. 361, $15.00